Dog Days of Summer: The Dog Ate My Alibi Edition

There’s a new movie out, Dog Days, described by one reviewer as a “deeply naff feelgood dogcom” that “makes Marley and Me look like Citizen Kane, and is actually pretty creepy, in the way that only aggressively life affirming movies can be.”  Suggestion:  rewatch Dog Day Afternoon.  And check out local doggies at the end of this post!  I’m barbara@darbylegal.ca or www.darbylegal.ca.  Thanks for reading.

It is a hot summer in Nova Scotia; elsewhere on the continent, in too many places, wildfires burn.  My folks in Alberta are under the haze of smoke from fires in BC.    Thank goodness climate change isn’t a thing.Siriusdog-star

We’re nearing the end of the dog days of summer.  These are the hot ones that drive us a little mad.  The history of the phrase is quite interesting.  It comes from the appearance of the star Sirius above the horizon, just before the sunrise.  I enjoy using apps to find constellations, being so bad at it on my own that I can mostly find only the differentially sized dippers and Orion.  Sirius can be found by following Orion’s belt.  The bright star paired with the sun was thought to bring “heat, drought, sudden thunderstorms, lethargy, fever, mad dogs, and bad luck.

I adore this description from Hesiod about women, men and goats:

But when the artichoke flowers, [i.e., June] and the chirping grass-hopper sits in a tree and pours down his shrill song continually from under his wings in the season of wearisome heat, then goats are plumpest and wine sweetest; women are most wanton, but men are feeblest, because Sirius parches head and knees and the skin is dry through heat.

Nova Scotia dealt with the problem of mad dogs in a two-clause Act, Of Rabid Animals, R.S.N.S. 1984, c. 28 that permitted municipalities to make rules about for the “protection of persons from the bite of dogs or other rabid or diseased animals, for the destruction of all animals rabid or supposed to be rabid and running at large, and for the prohibition of the sale of the flesh of any· animal affected by the symptoms usually attendant on canine madness or otherwise diseased ;and may affix penalties for the breach of such orders, not to exceed forty dollars for any one offence.”  It was ok to kill, destroy, or confine an animal thought to show “symptoms of canine madness.”

Litigation goes to the dogs sometimes.  Local folks may be familiar with the legal saga of dog Brindi and her owner Francesca Rogier.  Multiple court appearances dealt with whether Animal Control gave Rogier sufficient opportunity to protest a euthanasia order; charges and appeals and more charges against Rogier for breaching animal control bylaws; and whether Brindi was a dangerous dog or could be rehabilitated (she had attacked other dogs).  Brindi meanwhile was kennelled for years and ultimately ordered into the care of the Halifax Regional Municipality.

We do sort of put dogs on trial via their owners.  In an appellate case relating to Brindi (2014 NSSC 267), I find an interesting twist, intentional or not, in the discussion of sentencing.  The Court acknowledges the sentence affects two beings, the dog’s owner, subject to fines, and the dog itself, that could be punished by death.  Brindi is written about as if she is a sort of co-accused who was sentenced based on her record:

At the time of sentencing the dog Brindi already had a record.  This was not the first incident of aggression by the dog.  In 2008 the appellant was charged with the same three offences which are the subject of this appeal.  At the time of sentencing other incidents of Brindi attacking dogs were put before the court.

brindi
Brindi

Brindi was ultimately adopted by a new owner, and by this time, was an old dog (over 13 years) having to learn new tricks.  The wide range of comments to this story is somewhat predictable: “One more victory for the: ‘keep a dog dog alive at all costs advocacy group’ formally known as animal control” versus “She should not have been locked up for 7 years.”

The case of Havanese Shih-Tzu-cross named Chevy made its way through BC courts in 2016:  Sagoo v. Murray, 2016 BCPC 376.  Chevy was purchased by Ms. Sagoo, who decided after several years that she had too much to manage, and needed to find a better home for Chevy.  The dog is described as “outgoing; loving; suffers from separation anxiety; does not like to be left alone for long periods; he is house-trained, but if left alone, he will pee and poop in the house which is his way of acting out.”

She gave Chevy to Ms. Murray with the assistance of a rescue organization.  Ms. Sagoo then wanted Chevy back; Ms. Murray claimed rightful ownership.  The Court had to decide who gets “interim custody” of the dog, pending a final decision on ownership.  Ms. Sagoo’s was “seller’s remorse,” so categorized because dogs are legally “personal property,” dealt with like cars or lettuce or saxophones, but with an added “best interests” consideration, also key in litigation regarding children, who were until recently the subject of “custody” battles, now described by “parenting” terms instead.

chevy2
Chevy

The matter was heard in Small Claims Court because “Chevy’s value is well within the $25,000 monetary jurisdiction of this court.”  Ms. Sagoo argued she would suffer irreparable harm if Chevy was not returned to her in the interim, and that no amount of money could compensate her for this.  Chevy’s best interests were served by remaining with Ms. Murray.  No word on the final outcome.

Finally, R. v. Hudder, 2014 NSPC 105, is a case about a charge of attempted murder, gambling, drinking, and car chases.  A shooting occurred at 2:13 a.m.  The accused’s father tried to help out by providing evidence that his son was already home at the time of the shooting. Dad recalled his son arriving home at 2:10 a.m.:

 Joseph Hudder claimed to have made a note of the time his son arrived home on November 3, 2012.  He stated that he relied on the note for his recollection of the time his son arrived home. He did not produce the note.

The note providing this alibi could not be produced because the note was gone:  “his dog ate the note, ie. chewed it up.” See also for other dog-related problems.

The Court:

The testimony of Mr. Hudder that the note, this key piece of evidence having been retained since November 2012, was destroyed by the family dog days before it would be sought by police when investigating the Defence alibi, was completely unbelievable.

dog paper

Some happy local popsicle eating doggies.

image1

Local doggie on its own frolic (check out A Frolic of One’s Own).

denise

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